Deja Vu

Posted by Censor Librorum on Apr 1, 2007 | Categories: Lesbian in a Catholic Sort of Way

There are a lot of gay women on the North Fork of Long Island. Some of these women come from old Yankee stock, are fairly well off, or both. Quite a few of them are artists, talented amateurs, or happy to dabble or experiment.

A recent article in Newsday, “Inspired by the landscape, and each other” chronicles an earlier, similar group of women who lived, painted and ran together on the North Fork. Terry Wallace, an East Hampton art dealer, coined the term “Peconic Bay Impressionists” to describe their school of art. His book, “Caroline M. Bell and the Peconic Bay Impressionists” deals with this group.

Wallace sees this group of artists as more than just affluent women from families who more often than not traced their history on Long Island to before the Civil War. “They were a group of women who painted together. They were really feminists way ahead of their time. They traveled to Gloucester (Mass.) They went where they wanted from the 1900s to the 1950s.” He said the mix of styles in the paintings over the years–the use of color, the strength of the brushstrokes–fits that pattern of the women’s lives. “I wanted to see who was influenced by who. But, as independent women, they had their own state of mind…they didn’t copy from each other.”

A sampling of works by Peconic Bay Impressionists is on display at the Suffolk County Historical Society Museum in Riverhead, NY until April 30th.

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